Tuesday, Oct 24th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 25 January 2015 16:35

Home Visits to Kuching Flood Victims

Written by  Tan Pui Lee, Kuching / Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

Kuching volunteers launched a three-day home visit, to check on the aftermath of the flood and to care for the victims. [Photograph by Mok Lai Lean]

The few days of incessant heavy downpour since January 18 had resulted in devastating flooding in Kuching. Tzu Chi volunteers immediately activated the disaster relief work, but fortunately, the rain stopped on January 21. On January 22, the flood victims at shelter homes were told to return home; thus, ceasing all operations at the evacuation centres.


 
After a five-day survey and visit, Tzu Chi volunteers concluded that there were four villages critically affected by the flood, namely, Kg Batu Kitang Lama, Kg Batu Kitang Jaya, Kg Rantau Panjang and Kg Segobang.
 
After discussing with KL & Selangor Branch, the disaster relief was conducted in a different manner this time around. Instead of the usual aid distribution, all volunteers were mobilized to carry out home visits for three consecutive days, from January 23 to 25, based on the details provided by the Village Heads and shelter homes. The aim of the home visits was to survey and render further assistance in the aftermath of the flood; more importantly, extend sincere care and blessings to the victims to ease their anxieties.
 
On January 23, and under the hot afternoon sun, 29 volunteers walked to Kg Batu Kitang Lama and Kg Batu Kitang Jaya, where they visited 60 affected families in two groups, with help from the Village Heads.
 
Houses at low-lying land damaged
 
“The strong floodwaters came fast and rapidly, rising up to our waist level. All furniture in our single-storey house were soaked in the water, which only subsided yesterday afternoon (January 22),” Amin bin Saleh informed. Due to the uneven ground surrounding Kg Batu Kitang Jaya, single-storey houses at low-lying areas especially were seriously affected. Amin’s house was one of them.
 
Reaching Amin’s house, volunteers were greeted with damaged and water soaked furniture and clothing piled up at the door, and a few large damaged cupboards inside the house. There was nothing left except the emergency supplies, namely, carpets, blankets, and so on, that were distributed at the temporary shelter. There were also visible watermark stains on the walls.
 
Amin exclaimed, “Tzu Chi volunteers were here during the flood in 2004, providing us with food and money. This time, all of you are here again to comfort us. We are very grateful to Tzu Chi!” 
 
Wise elderly helping herself and others
 
At the other end of the village, Grandma Hasnah bte Rais waved fervently at the volunteers and informed them that prior to the flood, a few families nearby started shifting their valuables up to the hill. She then brought volunteers to the hill, where they found mattresses, tables, sofas, refrigerators, and so on. She happily pointed out that when the flood subsided, everyone again shifted their things back to their homes. As such, losses were minimized.
 
The hill is like a fortress for villagers to save their lives and belongings. It was from previous experience that they learnt such survival skills. Grandma illustrated in relief, “This time, as we are on higher ground, the flood did not affect us much because the water level only reached to our doorstep. Nevertheless, I am very happy to see so many of you here visiting us. I have prayed for everyone to be safe and sound, and for the floodwaters to recede soon.”
 
A blessing indeed to serve others
 
The second day’s home visits to Kg Rantau Panjang were conducted on the morning of January 24. A total of 63 volunteers divided themselves into five groups to visit 95 affected families. Despite the unfavourable weather, which was sunny and rainy at times, volunteers completed their mission with proactive assistance rendered by the Village Head and many others.
 
“I am very happy to be able to help the people in my village!” expressed Bassiron, son of a Village Head. He said, “I did not sleep well or eat properly for the past two or three days, and suffered from stomach discomfort.” Despite feeling unwell, and coupled with the fact that his family was also affected, he still insisted on serving the villagers. At the shelter home, he also volunteered himself to be one of the persons-in-charge, in order to assist the villagers efficiently.
 
When he learnt that volunteers would be there to conduct home visits, he gathered a few young men to come up with a map of the village that was divided into five sections, and planned the routes accordingly. When volunteers arrived, they were led by the young men to reach the designated areas. Bassiron even had his lunch after ensuring that volunteers completed their home visits. He said further, “I am very touched by the spirit of Tzu Chi volunteers. They really care for us sincerely, visiting each and every house to help the villagers.”
 
Life is precious, be grateful and contented
 
Mohamad Nor bin Ali said, “The water level rose very quickly. Luckily, I had placed the things at home on higher level; and since there were not many things at home, the loss was minimal. But, my riverside stall, which I depended upon to sell goodies and cakes for a living, was swept away by the flood.” He stated helplessly that his wife is mentally sick and in constant need of medication to stabilize her condition. He also has a young daughter to support. As the only breadwinner in the family, he is very much troubled that he is unable to run his business now.
 
“There is nothing more precious than life itself! Damaged things can slowly be replaced in the future,” said Wailline Mahmood, who has lived in the village for many years. Having gained much experience through various flood encounters, he was able to shift his furniture to the second floor in time. Hence, his losses were negligible.
 
A thankful Wailline Mahmood added, “The flood here is nothing compared to the devastating flood in East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.” He then shared that his friend became homeless when his house in Kuala Terengganu was swept away by the devastating flood. Therefore, one must learn to be grateful and contented; and most importantly, be safe.
 
Familiar figures extending care again
 
“Tzu Chi is here again in this village for the third time; they are like relatives and friends, caring for us,” exclaimed a delightful Bot bin Udin at the sight of volunteers appearing in time to extend care and comfort to the people in flood affected areas.
 
Looking at the volunteers, Kamisiah bte Salleh was pleased. She recalled that during the floods in 2004 and 2009, volunteers distributed monetary aid to help the villagers to overcome their financial difficulties. “This is the first time I see volunteers visiting each family and also the first time an NGO is caring for us after the flood.” She could truly feel the sincerity and selfless love of volunteers.
 
After the regular Tzu Chi Recycling Day on January 25, 16 volunteers carried out the third day’s home visits on 22 families at Kg Segobang and 8 families at Sungai Maong Tengah, to extend care and comfort to them after the flood and to follow up on their recent developments.
 
 
During the three-day home visits, there was a turnout of 107 volunteers covering five critically affected areas. Out of 180 families visited, 36 families (about 20%) were seriously impacted, while 83 families (about 45%) suffered minor losses.
 
The home visits had brought volunteers closer to the flood victims. Every caring and comforting word spoken represented the warmth and blessings from volunteers. It is hoped that everyone could weather the flood disaster, and that one should be mindful and cautious in the future. We should also take the responsibility to protect the Earth, as that is the only way to be freed from natural disasters.
 
 
On January 23, volunteers gathered at Kg Batu Kitang Lama and proceeded to two villages for the first day’s home visits. [Photograph by Tan Pui Lee]   Residents of houses situated at low- lying land suffered serious losses from the flood. [Photograph by Jong Yik Jia]

On January 23, volunteers gathered at Kg Batu Kitang Lama and proceeded to two villages for the first day’s home visits. [Photograph by Tan Pui Lee]
 
Residents of houses situated at low- lying land suffered serious losses from the flood. [Photograph by Jong Yik Jia]
 
On January 24, 63 volunteers went to Rantau Panjang for the second day’s home visits. There, they gathered for briefing and divided themselves into smaller groups to care for 95 families. [Photograph by Mok Lai Lean]   Flood victims described their experiences and damages suffered due to the flood. [Photograph by Ng Hsiung Hsiung]

On January 24, 63 volunteers went to Rantau Panjang for the second day’s home visits. There, they gathered for briefing and divided themselves into smaller groups to care for 95 families. [Photograph by Mok Lai Lean]
 
 
Flood victims described their experiences and damages suffered due to the flood. [Photograph by Ng Hsiung Hsiung]
 
Despite feeling unwell, Bassiron (centre), was determined to accompany volunteers on the home visits. He was smiling all the way. [Photograph by Ng Hsiung Hsiung]   The flood swept away Mohamad’s riverside stall that he had depended on to make a living. He was very much troubled by it. [Photograph by Ng Hsiung Hsiung]

Despite feeling unwell, Bassiron (centre), was determined to accompany volunteers on the home visits. He was smiling all the way. [Photograph by Ng Hsiung Hsiung]
 
 
The flood swept away Mohamad’s riverside stall that he had depended on to make a living. He was very much troubled by it. [Photograph by Ng Hsiung Hsiung]
 
Volunteers overcame all obstacles and hardships to enter into flood affected areas for home visits. [Photograph by Lee Nan Chin]   Volunteers were seen at the long house of Kg Segobang, caring and comforting the flood victims. [Photograph by Fu Oi Jong]

Volunteers overcame all obstacles and hardships to enter into flood affected areas for home visits. [Photograph by Lee Nan Chin]
 
 
Volunteers were seen at the long house of Kg Segobang, caring and comforting the flood victims. [Photograph by Fu Oi Jong]